Slovak Iron Route (SIR) – is a cultural route of the sites of former iron ores’ exploitation, of iron making and treatment of iron and other metals.
On the territory of today’s Slovakia mining and metallurgy played an important role, which meant an economic contribution for the existing state forms. Its technical and technological level was high. The skillfulness of workers, for example of bell casters, the technologies and production equipments were on the top European and also world level. We can also mention the so called Slovak furnaces, blast furnace with charcoal, application of gunpowder for exploitation in mining, the first in all the world.
Among the most important sites we can name Košice and surroundings, (Košické Hámre), Medzev, Jasov, Štós, Smolník, Prakovce, Gelnica, Rožňava, Betliar, Nižná Slaná, Vlachovo, Dobšiná, Stratená, Sirk – Červeňany, Štítnik, Pohorelá, Podbrezová, Ľubietová, Banská Štiavnica, Kremnica etc.
The culture, traditions developed along with mining and metallurgy. Important heritage sites, which are possible to be seen by visitors of Košice include the Dome of St. Elisabeth the altar of St. Cross or the so called iron cross altar. The altar was made by an artistic forger and bell caster Vojtech Buchner upon project of Ľ. Konrády, the premonstrian vicar in memory of victims of the WW1 and it was consecrated on May 1, 1931 by bishop Jozef Čársky. In the two borders of the altar, at the bottom there are two bronze plateaus. One illustrates Pap’s arm, the picture of Ľ. Konrády, the second one, picture of V. Buchner and the coat of arms of the Košice city. The next prestigious site is the Slovak Technical Museum in Košice, where visitors can see exhibitions of iron and steel production model of the former VSŽ, currently US Steel, creations of artistic forgers, a renaissance port – casted door to the subjects of Vergilius production.
Jasov – A Monastery and a church of the Jasov convent of premonstrian order, late baroque building (1750 – 1766) with French garden and a monastery library. The premonstrian order of Jasov undertook an enterprise in ironmaking, in 1780 the blast furnace was constructed, which was in use until 1870. They owned also some blacksmitheries in Jasov and surrounding areas. The protected locality from Halstat time – 600 years B.C. (ahead of the cave discovered foss with the fireplace and middle treated piece of iron so callwed loupe at weight of 2 kg. The Cave Fajka is ranked among the natural UNESCO heritage sites.
Medzev – 600 years old tradition of black smithery where in 1893, 109 black smithery with 198 fireplaces were working in Medzev. A possible visit: black smithery... of the Slovak Technical Museum on the Štós street, originally a town with two fireplaces, one black smithery. The black smithery of Brostl in Gold valley, black smithery in Šugov valley.
Štós – a mining city, known as the center of knife and fork production. In 1869 200 Štós families dedicated their work to knife production. The knife products were sold to Balkan, Small Asia and Turkey. The climatic spa above village, in the height 605 m above the sea level, was found in 1881.
Smolník – old mining town, from the times of Charles Robert’s, the residence of the Mining Chamber (The building of the so called Kammerhof is preserved). The monetagium since the times of Charles Robert; the residence of the Mint Chamber; well known red cent of Smolník and copper mints. The Mining Inspectorat and mining court were located here until 1754. The site of application of the so called cementation – copper production from mine waters by iron reduction. Till 1754 a mining school was run here, the second after Banská Štiavnica.
Prakovce – the first ironwork started to work here in 1760. An ironwork company of the Csáky family started to work in 1805. The products: iron bars, sheets, tools, artistic decorative casts. Till 1907 the Ladislav Csáky ironwork and steelwork operated in Prakovce. Mainly the high-speed steel, nickel steel, stone-cutting steel and spring steel were produced here. The Church of St. Ľudmila – interior includes decorated loads of the chancel, staircase, iron parquet.
Gelnica – in the times of king Belo IV it was a town with mining, administration, tribunal and economic privileges. In the 19th century there were the Mary Metallurgical Work and Factory of Anton Patz, till 1810 Matilda metallurgical work, factory of Otakar Jacobs. In the first half of the 19th century except for mines and metallurgical works about 200 forgers worked in the town and its neighborhood (Perla valley, former Grellnserfent, which produced nails, chains etc.) The heritage of the Jacobs family business is the casted statue of a praying miner, the art work of the Hungarian sculptor Edmund Szamolovski (square). There is also a mining museum with exhibition of mining, smithy. In the surroundings, there are possibilities for hiking and skiing – Kojšovská hoľa, Perlová valley, Kojšov), for water sports and fishing - water dam Ružín.
Rožňava – became a town by decision of Charles Robert in 1320. Typical mining city with iron, copper, gold and silver extraction. There is a mining museum with exhibitions of mining works and regional characteristics; the church of the Translation of Virgin Mary – the window painting Metercia – Virgin Mary with Christchild , set to milieu with revelations from mining and metallurgical works; fortress/castle Krásna Hôrka from the first half of the 13th century – with historical fortress exhibition since the 17th century in ownership of the Andrássy family - owners of many ironworks in Gemer.
Betliar – was typical for copper and gold mining. In 1791 a blast furnace was constructed here and iron production lasted from 1845 until 1847. The first rolling on steam driving in Hungary was used here. In 1879 the Betliar’s ironwork Emanuel Andrássy bought it. The blast furnaces were closed down in 1903.
The castle, built at the beginning of the 18th century by Štefan Andrássy, originally classicistic, rebuilt to renaissance – baroque with collection of Andrássy’s small lakes, fountains, parks, statutes casted in ironwork in Drnava.
Nižná Slaná – a mining village founded in the 14th century, appertained to Andrássy family from the last third of the 16th until the 19th century. Emanuel Andrássy (called also “ the ironwork count”) built on the place an ironwork plant with the so called Slovak furnace - the blast furnace in 1867 and named it “Etelka”. In the blast furnace siderits, limonits were treated in raw and roasted state. In 1907 the furnace’s operation was stopped and nowadays it is placed in the plant of Siderit N.Slaná. A small exhibition of the history of ironworking is set up in the municipal department.
Vlachovo - a village near Dobšiná came into being in the 14th century and belonged to the Štítnickovsky family, later on to the Andrássy family. Since 1549 two ironworking smithy have been mentioned in documentation. The blast furnace metallurgical plant called “Charles plant” was built by Emanuel Andrássy in 1843. The second one was built in 1870. Since 1907 the Charles plant was owned by Rimamurán-Salgótarján, a joint- stock company and production was definitively stopped in 1907.
Dobšiná – a mining town founded in 1326. An important smithy - documented back to the 15th century - gold, silver, copper and iron mines. In 1680 the first blast furnace built. In the 19th century two blast furnaces in ownership of the town were built. The so called up ironwork plant was constructed by Coburg’s. In 1858 they built a blast furnace and a forger smithy. A casted construction of staircase, casted in ironwork plant Drnava is exhibited at the municipal office. There are possibilities for skiing in the surroundings.
Stratená – the village had developed around copper - iron making plants in the first half of the 18th century. The progress in iron making arrived in 1842 when it passed over to the hands of the Coburgs. The old blast furnace was rebuilt in 1858 and in 1861 they built a new one. The remnants of walls and of administrative buildings are preserved. There are possibilities for water sports and hiking in the nearby village of Dedinky and for hiking in Slovenský raj (Slovak Paradise). There is also an ice cave of Dobšiná in the area.
Pohorelá – the vassal village of the fortress Muráň came into being in 1612. In the 70ties of the 18th century iron production began. (in 1754 a steel smithy, in 1804 a blast furnace and a smithy). In 1826 an iron making plant became a part of the Coburg’s iron company. In 1837 – 1839 the new blast furnace had built with foundry, municipal rolling and machinery. The production lasted until the 20th century. A pavilion casted in Pohorela’s ironwork was made to the memory of Ferdinand Coburg, the founder of Coburg’s ironworks in a nearby village in 1841. Possibilities for hiking and skiing in the Low Tatras are available.
Tisovec – here the iron production developed in the end of the 18th century. In 1782, the first blast furnace was built, in 1804 - 1805 two smithy worked here. In 40ties and 50ties of the 19th century the furnace in Tisovec was the biggest producer of iron in the entire Hungary. In 1864 another blast furnace was built with a Scotish column construction. In 1913 a coke blast furnace was constructed. In 1921 – 23 it underwent a reconstruction. A new, more productive coke blast furnace, with 3 new cowpers was built. Within the ambit of the reconstruction of the ironwork, a new blast furnace with thin wall with 325 m3 useful volume was built. In 1965 production - as a non profitable - was stopped. In the municipal office a museum of the Hron’s and Gemer’s ironworking progress and the metalworking industry is located. Possibilities for hiking, visiting caves, seeing remnants of a fortress are on offer. In the nearby Predná Hora - a part of the village
Muráň – a monument of obelisk of the ironwork businessman Franz Koháry is to be seen as well as a monument of the Bulgarian king Ferdinand (bronze plaquette with head and arms).
Sirk – Červeňany - the ironwork here was built by Hrlicko-Tapocsán ironwork joint-stock company in 1870-71. It had a blast engine powered by steam engine. The ore originated from the mines in Žlezník, Sirk, Rákoš and Nandráž. A lot of raw iron was exported to Austria. Since 1883 the blast furnace in Červeňany became a component of the Coburg iron work and finished its production in 1903. The blast furnace of the column construction, built from stone. Its profile is the logo of the Slovak Iron Route.
Štítnik – Inhabitants had been occupied by mining and iron treatment since the 12th century. As it is testified by documents, the name of the town is related to a smithy from 1243, a written document from 1344 refers to the smithy in Štítnik. In 1804 – 1805 10 Slovak furnaces and 10 smithy were in use here. The joint-stock company: “Štítnik konkordia” was founded in 1837. It owned one blast furnace in the Štítnik valley, a bloomer smithy and a smithy. Raw iron was delivered mainly to Ganz work in Budapest. A national cultural heritage site – Evangelic church with middle age wall paints, the gothic bronze baptistery, cup, church service vessel from the 15-17th centuries is located in Štítnik.
Podbrezová – in the valley of the Hron river 11 metal works and 11 smithies date back to 1568. At first, the most significant ones were low blast over ground furnaces, the so called “blowing” and smithies. In the 18th century construction of a blast furnace began. Gradually, iron ores treatment and iron making spread over to Chvatimech, Piesok, Osrblie, Lopej, Vajsková. In 1797 the most modern furnace in Hungary began its production in Pohronská Polhora. The year 1840 is considered the beginning of ironmaking in Podbrezová – puddle furnaces, wind blast and rolling work initiated its production. In 1854 the rail production started. It was the first production of this kind in Hungary. Current Ironwork Podbrezová belongs to the more modern works of this kind with tube of the large collection production. A Metallurgical Museum is part of the work with an exhibition on the history of ironmaking in the region. In the surroundings there are many possibilities for hiking and skiing (Resort “Tále”, Srdiečko, Osrblie), visiting the cave Bystrá .
Ľubietová – The king Louis Big granted Ľubietová the privileges of an independent king town in 1379. Thus the village joined the group of seven king’s mining towns. Gold, silver, copper were extracted here (in the 13th – 17th century). The government owned mines are documented in 1629. Metallurgical plant was constructed in 1634. In 1642 the first blast furnace in Hungary was built here. After the fire in the metallurgical plant in 1709 one new furnace was built. From iron produced by this furnace components of the first atmospheric steam engine to pump water from mines were casted. It was the first such steam engine in Slovakia and in Europe. The British constructor Isaac Potter constructed it for Nová Baňa. In 1896 the metallurgical plant was subordinated to Podbrezová plant and blast furnace and foundry were definitively closed down in 1909. There is an exhibition about history of the village, samples of the minerals from the surroundings area located in the administrative building.
Banská Štiavnica – was settled by Celts already in the 3-2th centuries B.C. and they exploited here gold. The oldest written reference is from the year 1156 – Terra banensium (the Ground of miners). In the 13th century the settlers from Tirol and Saxony came to this area. In 1238 the town was granted privileges. The first paper with the town stamp is dated back to 1275. In 1627 the world's first gun powder blowing was executed in the mine. In 1735 the first Mining school in Hungary was founded by Samuel Mikovíni in Banská Štiavnica. In 1751 the Calvary was finished and the town was visited by Franz I. Lotrinian, the husband of Mary Therese. In 1769 by decision of Mary Therese the Mining Academy was founded here - the first school of this kind with university level of education. Nicolas Jacquin was its first rector and professor. In these years, S. Mikovíni and M.K.Hell planned and constructed a system of lakes in surroundings of Banská Štiavnica. In 1993 Banská Štiavnica was registered a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.
Proposals for visits: Slovak Mining Museum, Old Castle, New Castle, Gallery of J. Kollár, Catholic Church of V. Mary and St.Elisabeth from 1491, 22 chapels of Calvary, sculptural group of St. Trinity etc.
Traditional mining celebration – Salamander is held in September .
Distinguished personalities of Banská Štaivnica: the writer A.Sládkovič, geologist and historian A.Kmeť, prose writer and diplomat A.Hykisch, actors Emília and Magda Vášáryová, etc .
In the surroundings: historical Sitno – the crown in Štiavnické vrchy – mountains, Mining outdoor museum in Štiavnické Bane, the castle of St.Anton, possibilities for hiking, skiing and water sports in Počúvadlo lake.